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How To Wear A Vest And Matching Jacket

If weddings are the first thing you think of when you hear three-piece suit, you’re not alone. Lots of guys get three-piece wedding suits. But when the wedding is over the vest goes into the closet, never to be seen again. If you want to use a vest to create more outfits here’s a step by step guide to getting the look, featuring the new Rivington Brown Custom Blazer and Vest by Black Lapel.

1: Choose the right suit vest and jacket

Choose the right suit vest and jacket

Those who know how to wear a vest and jacket know it’s a look that can be done with any jacket and vest, but some choices are better than others. For instance, a pinstripe suit vest and jacket would not work because the vertical lines created by the suit vest and jacket would come to a sudden stop at the midway point. The resulting look would visually split the wearer in half. Now, we can hear many of you saying to yourselves “I know how to wear a vest and a jacket now. I’ll just stick with solids.” True, this look can be pulled off with solid suit vests and jackets, but it’s not as simple as that. Depending on what else you wear it with, wearing a solid suit vest and jacket can end up making you look like you’re wearing a Rubik’s cube.

So if pinstripes are off-limits but solids aren’t always the best choice, what’s left? Subtle, micro-patterns and textures. Take this micro-herringbone vest and jacket combination the Black Lapel Rivington fabric. The textured look of this jacket and vest make it a great choice for a matching vest and jacket outfit.

2: Choose the contrast color to match your suit vest and jacket

Choose the contrast color to match your suit vest and jacket

The fabric we’ve chosen here, the Rivington , comes in three colors, the original Dusk Blue, and the new Gray and Brown versions. Since we chose brown for this outfit, we chose blue as the contrasting color. Why blue? Blue comes in so many shades it’s always easy for us to find a blue shirt (like the Light Blue Solid Twill Weave Custom Dress Shirt we used here) and navy blue pants (like the Navy Blue Saxony Custom Pants we used here). You’ve probably got these items in your closet too. If not, you really should. Here’s why you should have some blue dress shirts hanging around and here’s why you should have some blue suit pants on hand as well.

3: Bring your look together.


You’re almost all the way to a great outfit, but this is where so many guys go off the rails. Here, we kept the look cohesive with dark brown shoes that echo the brown in the suit vest and jacket. The tie brings the entire color palette together with it’s blue base, brown accents, and even a bit of white to play off of the light flecks in the vest, jacket and white pocket square.

How to Wear a Vest: Variations on a Theme

Once you’ve mastered the look above, you can start to mix two-piece suit with an alternative vest . When you know how to wear a vest with anything, the possibilities are endless.

Get the Look

You can make this look your own. Choose the fabrics, cuts and colors that you like with custom clothes by Black Lapel. Start here:


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12 thoughts on “How To Wear A Vest And Matching Jacket”

  1. Ahmad says:

    I am Indian and my skin tone is wheatish dark and hair color is black
    My hieght is 5’11”
    Which color suit looks good for me navy or charcoal grey or any other.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hey Ahmad…head over to this article about how to pick the best suit color for your hair and skin tone. You’ll get an idea about what suit to start out with based on your features.

  2. 78 says:

    I have a black suit. I want to buy a vest and neck tie. What colour is most suitable?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Black suits are tricky. Yes, black is a versatile color, but not when it comes to suits. As for building the rest of your outfit, shades of gray are most suitable for your suit. We’d recommend a charcoal gray or medium gray vest, and a necktie in either black or another, lighter shade of gray.

  3. Hawk Patko says:

    I have a light gray vest what would look good with it?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s a little open-ended Hawk. With only one small, neutral garment to go by, it’s impossible for us to tell you what will look good on you. Without knowing what you look like (What color hair you have? What’s your skin tone? Your build?), what clothes you have in your wardrobe (Is it mostly gray suits in your closet? Do you have only sneakers and jeans?), what’s appropriate where you spend you plan to wear the vest (Are you looking for outfits to wear to your job as a banker in New York? Your high school prom? Are you a welder from East Texas who’s going to be the best man in a wedding? A sculptor from Norway looking for something to wear on your vacation to the Maldives?), etc. we’re a little hamstrung, but we can offer you a solution!

      For broad advice on making outfits, check out our article on How to Choose Your Clothes. There we give you advice on how to dress from the inside out. When you understand the concept in that article, you’ll be able to put together outfits with ease.

  4. Will says:

    I have a charcoal 3 piece and am intrigued at the idea of wearing the jacket and waistcoat with different trousers.
    Thoughts on the colour/material?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      With a dark, neutral color like charcoal gray, you can really go with just about any color pants but we really like wearing similar colors. Instead of drawing all the attention to your lower half with some brightly colored pair of pants, just choose a lighter shade of gray or a contrasting blue. When pants and jacket aren’t made of matching fabric, the amount of contrast between them is the number one concern. If you’re under, say, 5’8″ tall don’t go overboard with the contrast by wearing very light pants. That will split you in half visually, making you appear even shorter. On the flip side, if you’re a taller guy, you can create a more stark contrast between your pants and jacket.

      Whatever you do, just avoid wearing something that’s too similar to charcoal gray. Dark navy blue pants or even black pants will create a muddled outfit that looks like you couldn’t tell which pants were which in your closet and you mistakenly put on two different suits. In dressing, as in old school hip-hop, there Ain’t No Half-Steppin’.

  5. Sil says:

    What’s the shirt and tie choosen in the first three images (at the top)?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s a Blue Pencil Stripe Custom Dress Shirt in that photo Sil.

      The tie was part of a small set of ties we made as a test. We sold the few that we made in our New York showroom, so they’re not available now.

  6. Mike says:

    What are your thoughts on the best way to do this with the Rivington Blue?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sure, Mike. We used the Brown Rivington fabric for this article, but you can get a similar look with lots of fabrics. All of the advice above can be transposed to a blue jacket and vest like the Rivington Dusk Blue, just swap the blue pants for either a lighter shade of blue or a solid gray or brown pair and you’re there. The idea here is to give you inspiration to mix and match so we’re happy to hear you’re looking to do just that.

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